The University of Nottingham Biology (C1X1)

Postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) with qualified teacher status (QTS)

Financial support
Bursaries and student finance are available if you’re eligible

A postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) with qualified teacher status (QTS) will allow you to teach in state schools in England and may allow you to teach in other parts of the UK.

It may also allow you to teach overseas, though you should always check what qualifications are needed in the country you’d like to teach in.

Many PGCE courses include credits that count toward a Master’s degree.

Age range
11 to 18 - secondary
Course length
1 year - full time
Date you can apply from
11 October 2022
Date course starts
September 2023


Course summary

The PGCE course is a one-year full-time programme. When at university you will be part of two learning cohorts, your subject group and a Schools and Society group. In subject studies you will explore: the principles which underlie the teaching of your particular subject; varied and detailed approaches for effective teaching and learning; how educational theory illuminates subject teaching. In Schools and Society studies you will explore the wider issues of becoming a teacher such as child protection, special educational needs, inclusivity etc.

You will spend at least two thirds of your time working in schools, and the remaining time in University. The course starts with a two-week introduction to the course, including two days spent in your first placement school.

First Placement: From week three of the course you will spend most of your time in your first placement with regular days returning to the University to reflect on, and develop, your practice.

You return to the University either side of your Christmas break to work with your peers, reflecting on your experiences in school and preparing for your next teaching placement.

Second Placement: During this placement you will become part of the school community and work professionally as a member of a team. Following an induction in school, you gradually build up your teaching across the age and attainment range. By week 5, you will be teaching approximately two-thirds of a teacher’s timetable.

You will return for several University-based days that focus on a range of professional development issues and allow for contact with peers and tutors.

Assessment: The PGCE course is a Masters level course incorporating two 30-credit modules entitled ‘Schools and Society’ and ‘Learning and Teaching’.

For the award of the PGCE and to achieve Teacher Standards, you must have reached the required standard in both the theory and practice elements of the course. In keeping with the nature of the course, which is vocational and postgraduate in approach, there are no written examinations.

Practical Teaching is assessed by University tutors, school-based mentors and coordinators, and External Examiners. Account is taken of your work over all school-based elements of the course and your own written records of such work.

On the course, you are required to submit various pieces of work related to your subject and Schools and Society programmes. The assignments may be written pieces or presentations and may include collaborative work.

School placements

The School of Education has a strong and well-established partnership of approximately 100 secondary schools. Our partner schools are mainly situated in Nottingham City, Nottinghamshire, Derby City, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire. There are also partner schools in Leicestershire and Staffordshire. Our Partnership Committee, and working groups for each subject, work with School of Education staff in planning, developing and monitoring our courses. All our school based mentors and coordinators attend mentor development sessions throughout the academic year.

You will undertake two extended placements in at least two schools, enabling you to gain a broad experience of different educational settings. The course starts in early September and finishes at the end of June/early July. In week one of the course you will begin your first school placement, where you will be based for the autumn term. From January to June your main teaching practice will be in a different, contrasting setting.

When deciding placements we take account of the needs of individual students such as parental/caring commitments, prior experience and home location. You can be assured that the tutors do consider the placements very carefully and your existing skill set may be considered in relation to the tutors’ knowledge of schools’ specialisms and developments. Travel times vary from placement to placement but we aim to keep any commute to within an hour.

In the summer term there is an opportunity for you to undertake a placement in an alternative educational setting i.e. sixth form college, special needs school, to further broaden your experiences.

Entry requirements

Qualifications needed

An undergraduate degree, or equivalent.

Your degree subject should be in biology or a similar subject. Otherwise you’ll need to prove your subject knowledge in some other way.

Grade 4 (C) or above in English and maths, or equivalent qualification.

We’ll consider candidates with pending GCSEs.

We’ll consider candidates who need to take a GCSE equivalency test in English or maths.

We are able to offer an equivalency test in English and maths to University of Nottingham PGCE secondary offer holders only.  

You are only able to take the equivalency test once.

There is no charge to take the test.

We do not accept any other equivalency tests.

Personal qualities

During the recruitment process, we will be focussing on your potential to be a great teacher. The qualities we look for in applicants are:

  • a desire to teach and work with young people from all backgrounds
  • effective communication skills
  • a commitment to work hard on the course: Teaching is a job where you can really make a difference to young people’s lives
  • determination to succeed: Success rates on the Nottingham PGCE course are high. It isn’t because the course is easy!
  • a readiness to listen and share
  • a flexible approach to learning and teaching

Other requirements

Admission to the course is subject to a satisfactory medical report, as you are required to meet the standards for ‘Fitness to Teach’. It is important that you disclose any medical condition or disability so that we can look at the best way of supporting you if you are offered a place on the course.

You will be subject to safeguarding checks which include an enhanced DBS check.

Before a recommendation for Qualified Teacher Status can be made we will need to be assured of your proficiency in English and mathematics.

Fees and financial support

The course fees for UK students in 2023 to 2024 are £9,250.

About the training provider

The University of Nottingham has been involved in teacher education for over 125 years and our postgraduate Initial Teacher Education provision is one of the largest in the country; courses inspected during our latest Ofsted visit were rated ‘outstanding’.

All of our courses emphasise practical school-based training, supported by an exploration of established and current educational theory and thinking. We have a clearly articulated set of strands and phases outlining the development of specialised teacher knowledge over the year, these support you to understand, and take ownership of, your professional development. Our courses are designed to challenge your ideas on learning and teaching and enable you to experience and develop for yourself a wide variety of styles and techniques to use in the classroom. All university tutors working with beginning teachers were successful and innovative teachers in schools, they are now experienced teacher educators committed to developing you as part of the next generation of teachers.

With a strong partnership with schools in the region, all of our courses are underpinned by a shared ethos and together we work toward shared aims. Our students are highly rated and a large proportion going on to work in partner schools each year.

The University of Nottingham ITE courses are popular and large cohorts offer excellent peer support throughout the course. We have a strong emphasis on emotional wellbeing, supporting our beginning teachers to develop their own identities and embed work ethics that enable them to thrive and enjoy teaching as a profession.

Interview process

We endeavour to make our interview process as stress-free as possible to enable you to get the most from the experience. When you come for interview, there are likely to be other applicants being interviewed alongside you. You will not be in competition with the other applicants – in fact, we are keen to see that you can work collaboratively with others.

The criteria we will use for selection at interview are:

  • an awareness of current educational issues
  • a realistic and positive view of schools and schooling
  • an open and enquiring mind
  • clear reasons for wanting to teach
  • motivation and commitment to teaching all pupils
  • maturity and self confidence
  • an appropriate level of subject knowledge in your subject

International candidates

You’ll need the right to study in the UK. You already have this if, for example, you:

  • are an Irish citizen
  • have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme (you may still be able to apply)
  • have indefinite leave to remain in the UK

If you do not already have the right to study in the UK for the duration of this course, you may need to apply for a Student visa.

To do this, you’ll need to be sponsored by your training provider.

Before you apply for this course, contact us to check Student visa sponsorship is available. If it is, and you get a place on this course, we’ll help you apply for your visa.

Alternatively, check if you’re eligible for a different type of visa, such as a Graduate or Family visa, that allows you to train to be a teacher without being sponsored.

Find out more about training to teach in England.

International qualifications

If your qualifications come from a non-UK institution, we may want to see a ‘statement of comparability’ from UK ENIC. This will show us how they compare to UK qualifications.

You can call Get Into Teaching on 0800 389 2500 for:

  • guidance on the UK equivalents of your qualifications
  • a free statement of comparability once you’ve submitted your application (if we ask you for this)

Training with disabilities and other needs

Admission to the course is subject to a satisfactory medical report, as you are required to meet the standards for ‘Fitness to Teach’. It is important that you disclose any medical condition or disability so that we can look at the best way of supporting you if you are offered a place on the course.

The University of Nottingham is committed to creating an inclusive and equitable teaching and learning environment and we work closely with our partnership schools to ensure that any student who has a specific need is supported to thrive as a beginning teacher. We believe the teacher workforce should reflect the diversity of school communities.

We have a wide range of facilities to meet the needs of students with special needs, differences or disabilities. The School of Education is supported by our wellbeing and disability support teams who work with students when necessary to ensure they access all available support from the University but also to support with any issues that specifically relate to being a student teacher.

We have many examples of supporting students with a range of needs and, in the past, have worked with students to plan placements in advance that accommodate their needs and mediated needs with partnership schools to ensure additional support is in place.

You are welcome to discuss any needs with us at any time during, or after, the application process.

Contact this training provider

0115 951 5151
The School of Education
Jubilee Campus

Support and advice

You can speak to a teacher training adviser for free, dedicated advice. They are all experienced teachers who can give you one-to-one support with your application. They can also help you get school experience, and find events where you can speak to training providers and teachers.

Call Get Into Teaching free of charge on 0800 389 2500, or chat online Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5.30pm (except public holidays).

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